The lights are on
Power Member - Level 7
Paul WS Anderson has finally beaten me. How do you try to make sense of a movie that doesn't even try to make sense? You don't. There's nothing in this movie for me to grab onto, to take apart or look deeper into. Resident Evil: Retribution is just a string of action sequences and choreographed fight scenes, loosely tied together with the barest amount of plot.
Though I must say, what fantastic choreographed fight scenes they are. Paul WS Anderson has always had a good visual eye for setting up a scene -- the opening sequence that plays backwards in slow motion is a ton of fun to watch -- but this time I think he's also finally mastered the art of the fight scene.
Now if only he'd work on becoming a better writer, or finding someone else to write his scripts.
The clone plot from the last couple films has been expanded on this time, resulting in the return of a number of family faces from throughout the series. Michelle Rodriguez reprises her role as Rain (who died in the first movie), and Sienna Guillory returns as Jill Valentine (last seen in the second movie (aside from a post-credits cameo in RE: Afterlife). Though here Jill is so unrecognizable as the blonde-haired blue-catsuit version of Jill that I wasn't sure at first if it was even the same actress.
Characters from the videogames who make their first movie appearance here include Leon S. Kennedy, Barry Burton, and Ada Wong.
Shawn Roberts also returns as Albert Wesker, but only for a cameo. Which is part of what makes Resident Evil: Retribution so interesting as an action movie: it's a movie about women.
Movie producers are convinced that the reason film like Catwoman, Elektra, and Aeon Flux didn't do well is because audiences aren't interested in female action heroes -- the movies being awful apparently had nothing to do with it. Yet here Anderson has been able to use the clout he's gained from RE: Afterlife being a box office success to film an action movie that is about action heroine Alice going up against the villainous mind-controlled Jill, and her right-hand woman Rain. And because Anderson is such a big fan of Aliens, he decided to throw in a Newt subplot as well.
Even if the movie itself isn't great, it's sort of a refreshing reversal to see an action movie where male characters only play supporting roles or appear in cameos. I've seen at least a few reviews out there where guys reacted negatively to the guys being relegated to the background, but it sort of makes me want to say "well, now you kind of see how we feel."
But perhaps the most surprising thing about Resident Evil: Retribution is that instead of leaving me with a list of answered questions like Anderson's other films, in this one he actually answers one of the series' major questions for once!
For the last four movies I have been wondering: how exactly was Umbrella supposed to benefit financially creating a virus that would zombify humanity? Why were they creating this virus in the first place? What were they going to gain?
And it's finally answered: the virus was created as a weapon to be shopped around and sold to the militaries of various countries, who would be told that their enemy has something similar. In theory, none of the countries would be foolish enough to actually use it; the intent was to create a chemical Cold War situation, with Umbrella profiting all around.
That's actually a pretty brilliant solution to this plot hole. Unfortunately, it still doesn't explain Wesker's motivations for anything he's done in the previous two movies -- how do you plan to make money when there are no humans to sell things to anymore? Why does Umbrella still exist at all?
Likewise, Wesker's motivations are never fully explained in this one. He shows up briefly to let Alice know that he's the one who freed her this time, because Umbrella is now his enemy. Someone has reactivated the Red Queen from the first movie, who has somehow taken over all of Umbrella, and wants to suppress the virus by killing all of humanity. Wesker doesn't like this idea, because it'd involve killing him as well.
So he breaks Alice out because he needs her help. But in super-Alice form. She's the only person who has taken well to the T-virus, so he gives her back her super powers. But he has super powers as well, so why does he need her? It's never explained, which made much of the movie unsatisfying for me. Rather than enjoy the mindless fight scenes, I kept wondering "but wait, why did Wesker free her?"
The climatic fight scene between Alice & Co. and Jill & Rain amusingly borrows the bone-crunching X-Ray shot gimmick from the latest Mortal Kombat game, as if Anderson is saying "and don't forget that I directed that movie!"
I think he's actually hidden a Mortal Kombat reference in every Resident Evil movie he's written. The first movie had the line "get over here!," the second one had "finish him!" Can you find a reference in the third and fourth movies?